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Fellows Directory

Jim Smith

Sir Jim Smith FMedSci FRS


Elected: 1993


Twitter @profjimsmith


ORCID 0000-0003-2413-9392


Jim Smith is renowned for his work on cell-to-cell signalling in the early development of the amphibian embryo. His discovery of a mesoderm-inducing factor secreted by a cell line and establishing its identity as activin transformed the study of induction in the early embryo. He also showed that activin specifies different cell types at different thresholds and that characteristic genes like Brachyury are turned on at specific concentrations. His earlier work demonstrated threshold responses in chick limb development and also showed that the mitogenic response to growth factors can be active when attached to the extracellular matrix.

Professional positions

Director of Science, Wellcome Trust
Director of Research, The Francis Crick Institute

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Developmental biology, Gastrulation, Genetic regulatory networks, Growth factors, Morphogenesis, Transcription factors, Xenopus, Zebrafish